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Transgender woman 1st to win office in Cuba

BY ANDREA RODRIGUEZ, ASSOCIATED PRESS

HAVANA -- Adela Hernandez, a biologically male Cuban who has lived as a female since childhood, served two years in prison in the 1980s for "dangerousness" after her own family denounced her sexuality.

This month she made history by becoming the first known transgender person to hold public office in Cuba, winning election as a delegate to the municipal government of Caibarien in the central province of Villa Clara.

In a country where gays were persecuted for decades and sent to grueling work camps in the countryside, Hernandez, 48, hailed her election as yet another milestone in a gradual shift away from macho attitudes in the years since Fidel Castro himself expressed regret over the treatment of people perceived to be different.

"As time evolves, homophobic people - although they will always exist - are the minority," Hernandez said by phone from her hometown.

Becoming a delegate "is a great triumph," she added.

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